By Sumathi Reddy
Men should consume no more than one alcoholic drink a day, according to a federal committee’s recommendations for new U.S. dietary guidelines.
A federal committee’s recommendation for new U.S. dietary guidelines comes as a 20-year rise in Americans’ drinking accelerates during the pandemic
That’s a reduction from the current recommended limit of two drinks a day, and matches the guidance for women. The shift reflects scientists’ evolving thinking on moderate drinking, and comes as a 20-year rise in Americans’ drinking is accelerating during the pandemic.
Earlier research linked moderate drinking to a lower risk of heart disease. But many health experts now say some of those studies are flawed, and that there’s more and better evidence showing wider health risks of alcohol.
“We looked at deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and more than 60 alcohol-related conditions,” says Timothy Naimi, a physician and alcohol researcher at Boston University who served on the federal committee. “Whatever kind of study you look at, two drinks a day is associated with a higher risk of death than drinking one drink a day. In the context of a health document, why would you endorse people drinking up to a level in which mortality increases?”
The recommendation is part of a wider effort to revise the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is updated every five years. The guidelines are intended to influence what Americans eat and drink, and they shape everything from school lunch programs to food manufacturers’ plans.
Intense lobbying takes place: The alcohol industry voiced objections at a public hearing last week, and some scientists have suggested a greater focus on binge, rather than moderate, drinking.
The alcohol advisory committee issued its recommendations in July. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services are set to review the recommendations and issue the final guidelines by the year’s end.